Scattergun approach causing turbid and turgid turn of phrase

Bell v Hendry & Ors [2014] ICQ 018

Martin J concurred with the original decision and found the complaint under the Justices Act 1886 a nullity and dismissed the appeal.

In coming to the decision his Honour considered the particulars and found they did everything but assist:

[25] Part of the problem which has led to this case is the original decision by the appellant to adopt a “scattergun” approach and charge the respondent with every conceivable breach. This approach signals an uncertainty in the prosecutor’s mind which is then replicated in the complaint. It also burdens a defendant with language which is cloudy rather than clear – language which is replete with qualifying clauses and which only serves to engender uncertainty in the mind of a reader. No defendant should have to wade through the hip-deep obscurity of Particular 2(d)(iii):

[26] This turbid (and turgid) turn of phrase is present elsewhere in the particulars. For example, paragraph 13(b) (in [24] above) is nothing more than a string of clauses which tells the reader nothing.


In so doing his Honour found that “the essential factual ingredients of the offence” were not set out or averred. Hence, the complaint was a nullity and there was nothing to amend. Given the nature of the appellant jurisdiction for such matters any appeal from this decision can only be by reason of jurisdictional error.

I refer you to the decision of Jackson J in Karimbla Construction Services Pty Ltd v President of the Industrial Court [2014] QSC 56 in contrast.


David Cormack – Brisbane Barrister & Mediator

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